A Lakeland Round (2011): The Stats

Not everyone is interested in the stats, so let’s keep the analysis in a separate post.

Summits bagged

The 29 Wainwrights “bagged”, in order, are:

  • Dodd (Skiddaw)
  • Whinlatter
  • Barf
  • Lord’s Seat (M)
  • Broom Fell
  • Graystones
  • Ling Fell
  • Sale Fell
  • Barrow
  • Outerside
  • Mellbreak (M)
  • Rannerdale Knotts
  • High Crag (H)
  • High Stile (Wainwright summit)
  • Red Pike (Buttermere) (H)
  • Starling Dodd (H)
  • Great Borne (H)
  • Crag Fell
  • Grike
  • Lank Rigg
  • Caw Fell (N)
  • Steeple (N)
  • Haycock (H)
  • Lingmell (H)
  • Birkhouse Moor (N)
  • Catstye Cam (H)
  • Hart Side (N)
  • Sheffield Pike (H)
  • Glenridding Dodd

(M) denotes a Marilyn, (N) a Nuttall, (H) a Hewitt (which are also all Nuttalls), (T) a Trail 100.

Nuttalls

The 12 indicated with (N) or (H) above, plus:

  • High Stile (THM) [see note]
  • Iron Crag (H)
  • Little Gowder Crag
  • Middleboot Knotts
  • Round How
  • Striding Edge
  • Green Side

[Note: Recently, it’s been determined that the true summit of High Stile is not the one Wainwright identified, and as a result High Stile has two summit entries on the DoBH]

Marilyns

The 3 fells indicated above with (M), plus Swinside

Others

In addition to the 37 fells listed as Wainwrights, Nuttalls or Marilyns above, there were 18 other minor tops, or subsidiary summits, bagged. Almost all (16) of these are Birketts, as are most of the fells listed above ( the two exceptions being deleted Nuttalls on Scoat Fell). In one case, Whinlatter, the Birkett is actually the real summit of the fell, rather than the Wainwright.  Other notable Birketts included Seat and Whoap which really did feel like separate fells, unlike most of the other Birketts which are really just bumps on other fells.

Tarns

Along the way I visited the following named tarns,

Greendale Tarn
Styhead Tarn
Lanty’s Tarn
Red Tarn

…and various small unnamed pools on various fells. Red Tarn easily wins the prize for best tarn on this trip.

Walk statistics

Overall

Total distance walked: 119.17 miles / 191.747 km
Total walking time: 60 hrs 40 mins
Total ascent: 8,543m
Total descent: 8,740m
Overall ascent gradient: 4.5%
Undulation %: 9.0%
Average speed: 1.96 mph / 3.16 kph
FES: 2.90 mph / 4.67 kph
Total Wainwrights bagged: 29
Total Nuttalls: 19
Of which Hewitts: 11
Total Trail 100s: 1 (High Stile)
Total Marilyns: 4
Total tops (all kinds): 55
Total tops per day: 5

Heavy days (excl days 9 and 11 = 4 days):
Average distance: 12.19 miles / 19.61 km
Average ascent: 959 m
Average descent: 957 m
Average walk time: 6 hrs 47 mins
Average speed: 1.80 mph / 2.89 kph
Average FES: 2.74 mph / 4.41 kph

Lightweight days (4.5):
Average distance: 14.58 miles / 23.47 km
Average ascent: 966 m
Average descent: 1010 m
Average walk time: 6 hrs 57 mins
Average speed: 2.1 mph / 3.38 kph
Average FES: 3.03 mph / 4.87 kph

So what do these figures tell us:

Distance & speed: On the lighter pack days I’m able to go a bit further, and in a broadly similar length of day to the heavy days, therefore faster.  What was surprising is that the speed difference isn’t as much as I thought it would be – less than 0.5 kph.  But with the Pacerpoles, I certainly felt faster and noticed in particular how much faster I was at the small chunks of re-ascent later in the day when going from top to top.

Ascent / Descent: Pack weight makes no difference to the amount of ascent or descent that I did.  This is largely because the heavy days were often constrained in terms of start point, end point and general route, so big ascents and descents couldn’t be avoided, and I just had to grit my teeth and do them.  The main effect of the heavier pack is to make ascents and descents slower and reduce the overall speed.  Also, as I really noticed on this trip, is that a heavy walk tires me out more for the next day, and if I’ve done a big lighter-weight walk the day before, it becomes a big struggle.

I already knew before the trip that the overall time for the walk wasn’t likely to vary much on heavy v light days, based on my estimated times using Anquet.  On most days I beat the Anquet estimated times, but the broad pattern between heavy/light days was pretty good, and I know from these figures that I don’t have to tweak my Anquet parameters very much.

When out walking, I help myself along by setting times for getting to certain points, especially when ascending, using a figure of roughly 400m of ascent per hour.  I know from my earliest days hillwalking that descent over a similar gradient always takes about 2/3 of the ascent time, i.e. about 600m per hour.  Of course, on the hill, time needs to be added to these to allow for lateral distance as well, and I use my normal flat speed of 3 mph for this, then round up the time slightly.  What this trip really has done is confirm that my rules of thumb are pretty good, and on every day they enabled me to estimate finish time quite well, and hence make decisions about whether to cut any parts out or continue and do the whole.  The only times the rules didn’t work was in forests, when navigating down a hill via the forest tracks always took longer than it would have done in open terrain, because somehow what was on the map wasn’t easy to follow on the ground.  In other words, in forests I ended up walking further than expected.

It’s also interesting that even on lighter days when I could go further, I seemed to have an upper limit for walk time and walk distance, and the Pacerpoles, although they did help me walk a little further, made their main contribution in terms of speed rather than distance.

And when I compare the figures with other trips this year…

Cumbria Way (March/April 2011).  9.5 days of walking, a distance of 105.85 miles, and ascent of 4926m for a total walking time of 55 hrs 50 mins.  The overall average speed is similar between the two trips, but this hides the fact that the trip just finished has much more gradient and that I had a mixture of light and heavy days, and comparing like with like shows this: FES for fully loaded days was 2.75 mph for Cumbria Way and 2.74 mph for this trip.

Snowdonia in May 2011 was the best available comparison for lighter days.  A total distance of 50.05 miles, ascent of 4449m in a time of 30 hrs 24 mins, meant an average speed of 1.65 mph and FES of 2.62 mph.  Equivalent figures for this trip were 2.1 mph and 3.03 mph.  I put this down to 2 main factors: the weather, which was appalling at times in Snowdonia, and hence slowed me down; and the Pacerpoles, which noticeably helped my speed in Cumbria.  Another minor factor is that I did feel fitter generally on this last trip, so that will have contributed slightly.

So overall conclusions, which I can use to help me plan in the future:

  1. A heavy pack makes no significant difference to the maximum amount of ascent or descent I can do on a day’s walk.
  2. With a heavy pack I can expect to walk at a flat-equivalent speed of around 2.75 mph on average over the course of a day.  As this speed is already lower than a lighter-weight walk, the impact of weather is not significant.
  3. With a light pack, I can expect to walk at a flat-equivalent speed of about 3 mph, using Pacerpoles in decent conditions and where the terrain is not difficult.  This speed drops if the terrain is more challenging underfoot, or the weather is worse.  It would also drop if I didn’t use the Pacerpoles.
  4. The Pacerpoles make less difference on a heavy day in terms of speed or distance, their main contribution being to provide rhythm and momentum.
  5. The Pacerpoles, used on a lighter-weight day, enable me to achieve faster speeds for longer, as well as providing the same momentum benefits as on a heavy day.
  6. My overall planning rule of 400m ascent or 600m descent an hour works.  This assumes straight-up or straight-down and so just needs to be tweaked for additional lateral distance where the ascent or descent is more gradual.
  7. I still need to work on raising my overall daily distance and walk time ceilings, so that I can enter some long distance walking challenges with more certainty of being able to complete them.  At the moment, I reckon I wouldn’t be able to do more than about 20 miles of moderate countryside terrain in a day.  I want to get this up to 25, which is a more typical challenge distance.  It will also equip me for long days on LDPs (e.g. there are a couple of 20 mile days on the C2C).
  8. As already mentioned, this walk has shown the need to carefully manage the balance between light and heavy days to avoid over-tiring myself such that I can’t walk the next day.  Provided I plan in one or two non-walking or minimal walking days into a 10-14 day trip, the patterns analysed above should hold true.
  9. Despite all the stats that say heavy days are achievable, they’re still hard going, and so I need to continue to close the weight gap between heavy and light days – i.e. reduce my full-pack weight.

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